Work: Getting Your Education Recognized

by Theresa Wojtasiewicz

Many employers these days are looking for candidates with higher academic credentials. Even entry level jobs often require at least a high school diploma. You have a degree that you are certain should give you an advantage over others applying for the same job. How do you convince your prospective employer that your academic credentials earned in another country are good?

Or, perhaps, to get a job, you need to complete your Master’s degree. You are only a few credits away; how do you get your credits transferred so that you don’t have to take those courses again?

World Education Services (W.E.S.), now celebrating its 35th anniversary in the U.S., is an international not-for profit organization whose function is to evaluate internationally earned academic credentials and compare them with their North American counterparts. W.E.S. came to Canada (specifically, Ontario) in 2000 when two committees, working on behalf of the government of Ontario, awarded the contract to W.E.S. to provide these evaluation services to internationally educated individuals.

Why do I need to have my academic credentials evaluated?

If you are looking for a job, your employer will want to know if your degree matches that of applicants educated in Canada. If you need to go back to school, the university will want to look at the courses you’ve already taken. Professional licensing organizations want to know if your academic qualifications meet their requirements. Apprenticeships for skilled trades (electrician, plumber, automobile mechanic) require at least a high school diploma. How do the courses you took in secondary school compare with what is taught here?

What W.E.S. does

W.E.S. evaluates or assesses your academic credentials and compares them to what can be found anywhere in Canada. The objective is to find a similar program, not to compare the ranking of one school with another. If, for example, you have an MBA from the National
Institute of Industrial Engineering in Mumbai, W.E.S. will evaluate and look for a similar program in any school in Canada, not just the Schulich or Rotman Schools of Business.

The process

W.E.S. requires official documents supplied by the schools you attended. Copies or originals in a sealed envelope may be sufficient, depending on the country in which you attended school. See www.wes.org/canada for more detailed information about document submission. These are easier to get before coming to Canada; if you are applying for an evaluation here in Canada, it may take up to four weeks before these documents arrive. Having your academic credentials evaluated before coming to Canada also works to your advantage; the evaluation will give you more points on your application for immigration. And don’t forget to include your spouse; she or he will add points with their academic credentials as well.

Once W.E.S. has all the documents they need, they will proceed with the evaluation, which will take up to seven days (the fastest turnaround for such reports in Canada). There are two official reports you can request: the basic report for a fee of $115, or a course-by-course report (which includes a basic report), for $200. The basic report is what your prospective employer wants to see.

For an apprenticeship; a course-by-course report, which lists every course you took, will be useful if you are applying to a university or a professional licensing organization. You can ask WES to have a free copy of your report sent directly to whoever requires one; your information is private, and will only be shared with your permission. Both reports cover all degrees and academic credits for one person. If you have difficulty finding the money for these fees, the Maytree Foundation (See Issue 13: “The Maytree Foundation and TRIEC...”) offers loans up to $5,000 that can be used towards evaluation, licensing and training. If you’re still in the pre-immigration stage, for $25 you can use W.E.S.’ on-line preview to see how your degrees match to Canadian ones. The $25 fee will go towards the fee for the full report if you follow up within seven days.

W.E.S. has recently formed partnerships with COSTI and Educational Testing Services Canada which allows you to request your academic credentials evaluation as well as either document translation or assessment of your workplace English skills in one application.

For more information about World Education Services, please visit their website at www.wes.org/canada, or call 416-972-0070 (Toronto local), toll free 866-343-0070, or fax 416-972-9004

CNM